Top things to do in Bellaghy

Bellaghy is a quaint village in the heart of Mid Ulster, it has undergone significant transformation over the past 5 – 10 years with an abundance of places for visitors to immerse themselves in local culture, it is perhaps best known as the home of Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laurette.   If you’re planning a boat trip on the River Bann, you might want to design an itinerary to take in the experiences and surroundings of Bellaghy whilst you are in the area.

Cookery School – Bakehouse NI

Bronagh at Bakehouse NI, Bellaghy

Bakehouse is a small cookery school just outside Bellaghy run by Bronagh, who is passionate about food, the local countryside and produce.  Bronagh loves to turn our fabulous local, seasonal ingredients into delicious dishes and to share these skills in a fun, learning experience. Foraging for delicious local foods such as blackberries or sloes is an amazing opportunity to get outside and bring the tastes and scents into the kitchen table. Bronagh firmly believes the process of cooking and eating is one of life’s pleasures, which nourishes the body, sooths the mind and creates a great experience of community and fun. 

There are a range of classes at Bakehouse, suitable for all levels of skill. The classes allow visitors to relax and have bit of fun while creating something tasty. Class sizes are small, usually no more than 12 people per class. Bronagh also offers 1 to 1 classes as well for private tuition. All the ingredients and equipment for the classes are provided, so just turn up and enjoy the experience.  Visit Bakehouse NI for more details and to book a class.

Seamus Heaney Homeplace

Seamus Heaney Homeplace, Bellaghy

Seamus Heaney HomePlace is a purpose-built arts and literary centre in Bellaghy, which celebrates the life and work of the late poet and Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney, and contributes to his legacy.  Step into Seamus Heaney HomePlace, and discover the world-renowned poet in his beloved hometown. Journey through the life and works of this literary giant, greatly valued locally for his decency and humility, and experience the place, the people and the landscape that so inspired his work.

What’s inside Seamus Heaney Homeplace

Here, you will see Heaney’s leather school satchel and his wooden desk from Anahorish Primary School, handwritten transcripts from the poet, and books donated by the Heaney family.  You will learn about the people who were integral to his life and poetry.  Click here for more information and online tickets.  Local tour guide, Brendan Adams would be delighted to escort you on a tour of the places that inspired Heaney’s work.

Bellaghy Bawn & Digging Statue

Digging Statue, Bellaghy

Built around 1619 by Sir Baptist Jones, Bellaghy Bawn is a fortified house and bawn (the defensive wall surrounding an Irish tower house) and one of the more famous historic houses in Northern Ireland.  The Vintners Company fortified house and bawn was occupied until 1987. It was opened to the public in 1996. Inside there are exhibitions on local history, and on poetry by local Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, who grew up in Bellaghy and much of his work reflects life there.  Visit: Bellaghy Bawn Website for more information

Digging Statue, Bellaghy

Make sure you pay a visit to the Digging statue outside Bellaghy Bawn.  The life-size bronze figure is an interpretation of the Nobel Laureate’s work Digging.  The sculpture, created by Scottish artist David Annand, was commissioned by the Bellaghy Development Association. 

Church Island on Lough Beg

Church Island, Bellaghy

Church Island is located just a couple of miles from Bellaghy and can be accessed on foot during the summer months (in dry conditions), there is access via a style on the middle of the strand, just off the Ballydermot Road, the best route when conditions are dry is from this point, facing Church Island keep to the right and you will find a path which leads about half way to the island, the remainder of the walk is on marshy ground.   Church Island, which is steeped in history, where you will find the ruins of the island’s old church with no spire! The spire was built beside the church for Bishop Harvey in the late 1700’s who wanted a view of a spire from his dwelling in Bellaghy.

National Nature Reserve

National Nature Reserve at Lough Beg, Bellaghy

Nature reserves are chosen from among the very best examples of our wildlife, habitats and geology. They contain a wide range of species, communities and geology and their designation is a public recognition by Government of their importance.  ‘The Strand’ on the west shore of Lough Beg is a large expanse of wet grassland that is flooded each winter. The nature reserve, with Church Island as its focal point, comprises 300 acres of important habitat.

In spring and autumn, migrating birds on their way through may pause on their journey to rest and feed. black-tailed godwit, green sandpiper, wood sandpiper, greenshank and knot are seen every year.  In early summer, the sky above the nature reserve is alive with the calls of breeding waders. It is possible to hear the drumming of snipe, the piping whistles of redshank and the peewit calls of lapwing, all of which depend on this soft, wet ground to rear their families.

Many rare plants including pennyroyal and the Irish ladies’ tresses orchid share this habitat with the birds. Winter brings floods and with them hundreds of wildfowl to feed on the inundated grasslands.

The Boardwalk at Church Island

Boardwalk at Church Island, Bellaghy

Further along the Ballydermott Road is a new boardwalk which leads to a little wooded area with views across to Church Island.  This boardwalk is a short walk and suitable for families with children.

Where to Eat / Drink in Bellaghy (Based on a local poll)